Skip to main content

We will keep fighting for all libraries - stand with us!

Full text of "The new army in training"

See other formats











The ore, the furnace and the hammer are all that is needed 
for a sword. Native proverb. 

THIS was a cantonment one had never seen 
bef ore, and the greyAaired military police-' 
man could give no help. 

4 My experience/ he spoke detachedly, 'is that 
you'll find everything everywhere* Is it any 
particular corps you're looking for ? ' 

4 Not in the least/ I said* 

4 Then you're all right* You can't miss getting 
something/ He pointed generally to the North 
Camp* 4 It's like floods in a town, isn't it ? ' 

He had hit the just word* All known marks 
in the place were submerged by troops* Parade* 
grounds to their utmost limits were crowded with 
them ; rises and sky-lines were furred with them, 
and the length of the roads heaved and rippled 
like bicycle'chains with blocks of men on the move* 

The voice of a sergeant in the torment reserved 

m i B 



for sergeants at roll-call boomed across a bunker* 
He was calling over recruits to a specialist corps* 

'But I've called you once!' he snapped at a 
man in leggings* 

4 But I'm Clarke Two/ was the virtuous reply* 

'Oh, you are, are you?' He pencilled the 
correction with a scornful mouth* out of one 
corner of which he added* 444 Sloppy" Clarke! 
You're all Clarkes or Watsons to-day* You don't 
know your own names* You don't know what 
corps you're in* (This was bitterly unjust* for 
they were squinting up at a biplane*) You don't 
know anything*' 

'Mm!' said the military policeman* 'The 
more a man has in his head, the harder it is for 
him to manage his carcass at first* I'm glad I 
never was a sergeant* Listen to the instructors ! 
Like rooks* ain't it ? ' 

There was a mile of sergeants and instructors* 
varied by company officers* all at work on the 
ready material under their hands* They grunted* 
barked, yapped* expostulated* and* in rare cases, 
purred, as the lines broke and formed and wheeled 
over the vast maidan* When companies numbered 
off one could hear the tone and accent of every 
walk in life, and maybe half the counties of 
England, from the deep'throated 4 Woon ' of the 
north to the sharp, half ^whistled Devonshire 4 Tu*' 
And as the instructors laboured* so did the men* 


with a passion to learn as passionately as they 
were taught* 

Presently, in the drift of the foot^traffic down 
the road, there came another grey Chaired man, one 
foot in a bright slipper, which showed he was an 
old soldier cherishing a sore toe* He drew along* 
side and considered these zealous myriads* 

4 Good ? ' said I, deferentially* 

4 Yes/ he said* 'Very good' then, half to 
himself : ' Quite different, though/ A pivot^man 
near us had shifted a little, instead of marking time, 
on the wheel* His face clouded, his lips moved* 
Obviously he was cursing his own clumsiness* 

' That's what I meant/ said the veteran* 
4 Innocent ! Innocent I Mark you, they ain't doin' 
it to be done with it and get off* They're doin' it 
because because they want to do it*' 

4 Wake up ! Wake up there, Isherwood ! ' This 
was a young subaltern's reminder flung at a back 
which straightened itself* That one human name 
coming up out of all that maze of impersonal 
manoeuvring stuck in the memory like wreckage 
on the ocean* 

4 An' it wasn't 'ardly even necessary to caution 
Mister Isherwood/ my companion commented* 
4 Prob'ly he's bitterly ashamed of 'imself *' 

I asked a leading question because the old 
soldier told me that when his toe was sound, he, 
too, was a military policeman* 



4 Crime ? Crime ? ' said he, 4 They don't know 
what crime is that lot don't none of 'em I ' He 
mourned over them like a benevolent old Satan 
looking into a busy Eden, and his last word was 
4 Innocent I* 

The car worked her way through miles of 
men men routexmarching, going to dig or build 
bridges, or wrestle with stores and transport four 
or five miles of men, and every man with eager 
eyes. There was no music not even drums and 
fifes* I heard nothing but a distant skirl of the 
pipes. Trust a Scot to get his national weapon as 
long as there is a chief in the North I Admitting 
that war is a serious business, specially to the man 
who is being fought for, and that it may be right 
to carry a long face and contribute to relief funds 
which should be laid on the National Debt, it 
surely could do no harm to cheer the men with a 
few bands. Half the money that has been spent 
in treating, for example* * . . 


There was a moor among woods with a pond 
in a hollow, the centre of a world of tents whose 
population was North*Country. One heard it 
from far off. 

'Yo' mun trail t' pick an' t' rifle at t' same 
time. Try again,' said the instructor* 



An isolated company tried again with set 
seriousness, and yet again. They were used to 
the pick won their living by it, in fact and so, 
favoured it more than the rifle ; but miners don't 
carry picks at the trail by instinct, though they can 
twiddle their rifles as one twiddles walking-sticks. 

They were clad in a blue garb that disguised 
all contours ; yet their shoulders, backs, and loins 
could not altogether be disguised, and these were 
excellent. Another company, at physical drill in 
shirt and trousers, showed what superb material 
had offered itself to be worked upon, and how 
much poise and directed strength had been added 
to that material in the past few months. When 
the New Army gets all its new uniform, it will 
gaze at itself like a new Narcissus, But the 
present kit is indescribable. That is why, English 
fashion, it has been made honourable by its 
wearers ; and our world in the years to come will 
look back with reverence as well as affection on 
those blue slops and that epileptic cap. One fan* 
seeing commandant who had special facilities has 
possessed himself of brass buttons, thousands of 
f em, which he has added to his men's outfit for 
the moral effect of (a) having something to clean, 
and (b) of keeping it so. It has paid. The 
smartest regiment in the Service could not do 
itself justice in such garments, but I managed to 
get a view of a battalion, coming in from a walk, 



at a distance which more or less subdued the er 
uniform, and they moved with the elastic swing 
and little quick ripple that means so much* A 
miner is not supposed to be as good a marcher as 
a townsman, but when he gets set to time and 
pace and learns due economy of effort, his 
developed back and shoulder muscles take him 
along very handsomely* Another battalion fell 
in for parade while I watched, again at a distance* 
They came to hand quietly and collectedly enough, 
and with only that amount of pressing which is 
caused by fear of being late* A platoon or 
whatever they call it was giving the whole of its 
attention to its signalling instructors, with the air 
of men resolved on getting the last flicker of the 
last cinema^film for their money* Crime in the 
military sense they do not know any more than 
their fellow^innocents up the road* It is hopeless 
to pretend to be other than what one is, because 
one's soul in this life is as exposed as one's body* 
It is futile to tell civilian lies there are no civilians 
to listen and they have not yet learned to tell 
Service ones without being detected* It is useless 
to sulk at any external condition of affairs, because 
the rest of the world with which a man is concerned 
is facing those identical conditions* There is neither 
poverty nor riches, nor any possibility of pride, 
except in so far as one may do one's task a little 
better than one's mate* 




In the point of food they are extremely well 
looked af ter, quality and quantity, wet canteen and 
dry* Drafts come in all round the clock, and they 
have to be fed; late guards and sentries want 
something hot at odd times, and the big marquee^ 
canteen is the world's gathering-place, where food, 
life's first interest to man in hard work, is thoroughly 
discussed* They can get outside of a vast o' vittles* 
Thus, a contractor who delivers ten thousand 
rations a day stands, by deputy at least, in the 
presence of just that number of rather fit, long, deep 
men* They are what is called 4 independent f a 
civilian weakness which they will learn to blush 
over in a few months, and to discourage among 
later recruits ; but they are also very quick to pick 
up dodges and tricks that make a man more com- 
fortable in camp life, and their domestic routine 
runs on wheels* It must have been hard at first 
for civilians to see the necessity for that continuous, 
apparently pernickity, house-maiding and 4 follow" 
ing'Up ' which is vital to the comfort of large bodies 
of men in confined quarters* In civil life men leave 
these things to their womenfolk, but where women 
are not, officers, inspecting tents, feet, and suchlike, 
develop a she-side to their head, and evidently 
make their non-commissioned officers and men 
develop it too* A good soldier is always a bit of an 



old maid* But, as I heard a private say to a 
sergeant in the matter of some kit chucked into a 
corner : ' Yo' canna keep owt redd up ony proper 
gate on a sand-hill/ To whom his superior 
officer : 4 Ah know yo' canna', but yo' mun try, 

And Heaven knows they are trying hard enough 
men, n.c*o/s, and officers with all the masked 
and undervoiced effort of our peoples when we 
are really at work They stand at the very be- 
ginning of things ; creating out of chaos, meeting 
emergencies as they arise ; handicapped in every 
direction, and overcoming every handicap by simple 
goodwill, humour, self-sacrifice, commonxsense, 
and such trumpery virtues* I watched their faces 
in the camp, and at lunch looked down a line of 
some twenty men in the mess-tent, wondering how 
many would survive to see the full splendour and 
significance of the work here so nobly begun* But 
they were not interested in the future beyond their 
next immediate job* They ate quickly and went 
out to it, and by the time I drove away again I was 
overtaking their battalions on the road* Not un- 
related units lugged together for foot-slogging, but 
real battalions, of a spirit in themselves which 
defied even the blue slops wave after wave of 
proper men, with undistracted eyes* who never 
talked a word about any war* But not a note of 
music and they North-countrymen I 



Thanda lohd garam lohe ko marta hai (Cold iron will cut 
hot iron). 

A^ 1 the next halt I fell into Scotland blocks 
and blocks of it a world of precise'spoken, 
thin^lipped men, with keen eyes. They 
gave me directions which led by friendly stages to 
the heart of another work of creation and a huge 
drill' shed where the miniature rifles were busy* 
Few things are duller than Morris^tube practice in 
the shed, unless it be judging triangles of error 
against blank^walls* I thought of the military 
policeman with the sore toe ; for these 4 innocents f 
were visibly enjoying both games. They sighted 
over the sand * bags with the gravity of surveyors, 
while the instructors hurled knowledge at them like 

4 Man, d'ye see your error ? Step here, man, 
and Fll show ye/ Teacher and taught glared at 
each other like theologians in full debate ; for this 
is the Scot's way of giving and getting knowledge. 



At the miniature targets squad after squad rose 
from beside their deadly -earnest instructors, gathered 
up their target-cards* and whisperingly compared 
them, five heads together under a window* 

'Aye, that was where I loosed too soon/ 'I 
misdoubt I took too much o' the foresight/ Not 
a word of hope and comfort in their achievements* 
Nothing but calvinistic self-criticism. 

These men ran a little smaller than the North- 
country folk down the road* but in depth of chest* 
girth of fore-arm* biceps* and neck-measurement 
they were beautifully level and well up ; and the 
squads at bayonet-practice had their balance* drive* 
and recover already* As the light failed one noticed 
the whites of their eyes turning towards their 
instructors* It reminded one that there is always 
a touch of the cateran in the most docile Scot, even 
as the wolf persists in every dog* 

4 And what about crime ? ' I demanded* 

There was none* They had not joined to play 
the fool. Occasionally a few unstable souls who 
have mistaken their vocation try to return to civil 
life by way of dishonourable discharge* and think 
it 'funny' to pile up offences* The New Army 
has no use for those people either* and attends to 
them on what may be called 'democratic lines/ 
which is all the same as the old barrack-room court- 
martial* Nor does it suffer fools gladly* There is no 
time to instruct them* They go to other spheres, 



There was, or rather is, a man who intends to 
join a certain battalion* He joined it once, scraped 
past the local doctor, and was drafted into the 
corps, only to be hove out for varicose veins* He 
went back to his accommodating doctor, repeated 
the process, and was again rejected* They are 
waiting for him now in his third incarnation ; both 
sides are equally determined* And there was 
another Scot who joined, served awhile, and left, 
as he might have left a pit or a factory* Somehow 
it occurred to him that explanations were required, 
so he wrote to his commanding officer from his 
home address and asked him what he recommended 
him to do* The C*O*, to his infinite credit, wrote 
back : 4 Suppose you rejoin/ which the man did, 
and no more said* His punishment, of course, 
will come to him when he realises what he has 
done* If he does not then perish in his self-contempt 
(he has a good conceit of himself) he will make 
one first-rate non-commissioned officer* 


I had the luck to meet a Sergeant-Major, who 
was the Sergeant-Major of one's dreams* He had 
just had sure information that the kilts for his 
battalion were coming in a few days, so, after 
three months' hard work, life smiled upon him* 
From kilts one naturally went on to the pipes* 



The battalion had its pipes a very good set* 
How did it get them f Well, there was, of course, 
the Duke* They began with him. And there 
was a Scots lord concerned with the regiment. 
And there was a leddy of a certain clan connected 
with the battalion. Hence the pipes. Could any^ 
thing be simpler or more logical ? And when the 
kilts came the men would be different creatures. 
Were they good men, I asked. ' Yes. Verra good. 
Wha's to mislead 'em f f said he. 

4 Old soldiers/ I suggested, meanly enough. 
4 Rejoined privates of long ago/ 

4 Ay, there might have been a few such in the 
beginning, but they'd be more useful in the Special 
Reserve Battalions. Our boys are good boys, 
but, ye'll understand, they've to be handled just 
handled a little.' Then a subaltern came in, loaded 
with regimental forms, and visibly leaning on the 
Sergeant < Major, who explained, clarified, and 
referred them on the proper quarters. 

'Does the work come back to you?' I asked, 
for he had been long in pleasant civil employ* 

* Ay. It does that. It just does that/ And he 
addressed the fluttering papers, lists, and notes, 
with the certainty of an old golfer on a well-known 

Squads were at bayonet practice in the square* 
(They like bayonet practice, especially after looking 
at pictures in the illustrated dailies.) A new draft 


was being introduced to its rifles* The rest were 
getting ready for evening parade. They were all 
in khaki, so one could see how they had come on 
in the last ten weeks* It was a result the meekest 
might have been proud of, but the New Army 
does not cultivate useless emotions* Their officers 
and their instructors worked over them patiently 
and coldly and repeatedly, with their souls in the 
job : and with their soul* mind, and body in the 
same job the men took soaked up the instruction* 
And that seems to be the note of the New Army* 


They have joined for good reason* For that 
reason they sleep uncomplainingly double thick on 
barrack floors, or lie like herrings in the tents and 
sing hymns and other things when they are flooded 
out* They walk and dig half the day or all the 
night as required ; they wear though they will 
not eat anything that is issued to them ; they 
make themselves an organised and kindly life out 
of a few acres of dirt and a little canvas ; they keep 
their edge and anneal their discipline under con* 
ditions that would depress a fox-terrier and 
disorganise a champion football team* They 
ask nothing in return save work and equipment* 
And being what they are, they thoroughly and 



unfeignedly enjoy what they are doing ; and they 
purpose to do much more* 

But they also think. They think it vile that so 
many unmarried young men who are not likely 
to be affected by Government allowances should 
be so shy about sharing their life* They discuss 
these young men and their womenfolk by name, 
and imagine rude punishments for them, suited to 
their known characters. They discuss* too, their 
elders who in time past warned them of the sin of 
soldiering* These men* who live honourably and 
simply under the triple vow of Obedience* Temper* 
ance* and Poverty* recall* not without envy* the 
sort of life which well 'kept moralists lead in the 
unpicketed, unsentried towns; and it galls them 
that such folk should continue in comfort and 
volubility at the expense of good men's lives* or 
should profit greasily at the end of it all* They 
stare hard, even in their blue slops, at white-collared, 
bowler'hatted young men, who, by the way, are 
just learning to drop their eyes under that gaze* 
In the third-class railway carriages they hint that 
they would like explanations from the casual 4 nut/ 
and they explain to him wherein his explanations 
are unconvincing* And when they are home on 
leave, the slack-jawed son of the local shop-keeper, 
and the rising nephew of the big banker, and the 
dumb but cunning carter's lad receive instruction 
or encouragement suited to their needs and the 



nation's. The older men and the officers will tell 
you that if the allowances are made more liberal we 
shall get all the men we want* But the younger 
men of the New Army do not worry about allow' 
ances or, for that matter, make 'em 1 

There is a gulf already opening between those 
who have joined and those who have not ; but we 
shall not know the width and the depth of that 
gulf till the war is oven The wise youth is he 
who jumps it now and lands in safety among the 
trained and armed men* 




Under all and after all the Wheel carries everything.- 

ONE had known the place for years as a 
picturesque old house, standing in a peace^ 
ful park; had watched the growth of 
certain young oaks along a new-laid avenue, and 
applauded the owner's enterprise in turning a 
stretch of pasture to plough. There are scores of 
such estates in England which the motorist, through 
passing so often, comes to look upon almost as his 
own* In a single day the brackened turf between 
the oaks and the iron road^fence blossomed into 
tents, and the drives were all cut up with hoofs 
and wheels. A little later, one's car sweeping 
home of warm September nights was stopped by 
sentries, who asked her name and business; for 
the owner of that retired house and discreetly 
wooded park had gone elsewhere in haste, and 
his estate was taken over by the military. 
Later still, one met men and horses arguing with 



each other for miles about that countrywide ; or the 
car would be flung on her brakes by artillery 
issuing from cross-lanes clean batteries jingling 
off to their work on the Downs, and hungry ones 
coming back to meals* Every day brought the 
men and the horses and the weights behind them 
to a better understanding, till in a little while the 
car could pass a quarter of a mile of them with' 
out having to hoot more than once* 

'Why are you so virtuous ?' she asked of a 
section encountered at a blind and brambly corner* 
4 Why do you obtrude your personality less than 
an average tax-cart ? ' 

^Because/ said a driver* his arm flung up to 
keep the untrimmed hedge from sweeping his cap 
off* 4 because those are our blessed orders* We 
don't do it for love/ 

^ No on accuses the Gunner of maudlin affection 
for anything except his beasts and his weapons* 
He hasn't the time* He serves at least three 
jealous gods his horse and all its saddlery and 
harness ; his gun, whose least detail of efficiency is 
more important than men's lives ; and, when these 
have been attended to, the never-ending mystery 
of his art commands him* 

It was a wettish* windy day when I visited the 

so4ong'known house and park* Cock pheasants 

ducked in and out of trim rhododendron clumps, 

neat gates opened into sacredly preserved vegetable 

17 c 


gardens, the many-coloured leaves of specimen 
trees pasted themselves stickily against sodden tent 
walls, and there was a mixture of circus smells 
from the horse-lines and the faint, civilised breath 
of chrysanthemums in the potting sheds* The 
main drive was being relaid with a foot of flint ; 
the other approaches were churned and pitted under 
the gun wheels and heavy supply wagons. Great 
breadths of what had been well-kept turf between 
unbrowsed trees were blanks of slippery brown 
wetness, dotted with picketed horses and field* 
kitchens* It was a crazy mixture of stark necessity 
and manicured luxury, all cheek by jowl, in the 
undiscriminating rain* 


The cook-houses, store-rooms, forges, and work- 
shops were collections of tilts, poles, rick-cloths, and 
odd lumber, beavered together as on service* The 
officers' mess was a thin, soaked marquee* 

Less than a hundred yards away were dozens of 
vacant, well-furnished rooms in the big brick house, 
of which the Staff furtively occupied one corner* 
There was accommodation for very many men in 
its stables and out-houses alone; or the whole 
building might have been gutted and rearranged for 
barracks twice over in the last three months* 

Scattered among the tents were rows of half- 



built tin sheds, the ready-prepared lumber and the 
corrugated iron lying beside them, waiting to be 
pieced together like children's toys* But there 
were no workmen* I was told that they had come 
that morning, but had knocked off because it was 

4 1 see* And where are the batteries?" I de*- 

'Out at work, of course* They've been out 
since seven*' 

4 How shocking I In this dreadful weather, too I ' 

4 They took some bread and cheese with them. 
They'll be back about dinner-time if you care to 
wait* Here's one of our field-kitchens*' 

Batteries look after their own stomachs, and are 
not catered for by contractors* The cook-house 
was a wagon'tilt* The wood, being damp, smoked 
a good deal* One thought of the wide, adequate 
kitchen ranges and the concrete passages of the 
service quarters in the big house just behind* One 
even dared to think Teutonically of the perfectly 
good panelling and the thick hard-wood floors that 

4 Service conditions, you see,' said my guide, as 
the cook inspected the baked meats and the men 
inside the wagon-tilt grated the carrots and prepared 
the onions* It was old work to them after all 
these months done swiftly, with the clean economy 
of effort that camp life teaches* 



4 What are these lads when they 're at home ? ' 
I inquired* 

4 Londoners chiefly all sorts and conditions/ 

The cook in shirt sleeves made another investi' 
gation* and sniffed judicially* He might have 
been cooking since the Peninsular* He looked at 
his watch and across towards the park gates* He 
was responsible for one hundred and sixty rations, 
and a battery has the habit of saying quite all that 
it thinks of its food* 

4 How often do the batteries go out ? * I continued* 

4 'Bout five days a week* You see* we're being 
worked up a little/ 

4 And have they got plenty of ground to work 
over ? ' 

4 Oh yes-s/ 

4 What's the difficulty this time ? Birds ? ' 

'No; but we got orders the other day not to 
go over a golf-course* That rather knocks the 
bottom out of tactical schemes*' 

Perfect shamelessness* like perfect virtue* is 
impregnable ; and* after all* the lightnings of this 
war, which have brought out so much resolve and 
self-sacrifice* must show up equally certain souls 
and institutions that are irredeemable* 

The weather took off a little before noon* The 
carpenters could have put in a good half-day's 
work on the sheds, and even if they had been 
rained upon they had roofs with fires awaiting 



their return* The batteries had none of these 


They came in at last far down the park, heralded 
by that unmistakable half-grumble, half-grunt of 
guns on the move* The picketed horses heard it 
first* and one of them neighed long and loud* which 
proved that he had abandoned civilian habits* 
Horses in stables and mews seldom do more than 
snicker* even when they are halves of separated 
pairs* But these gentlemen had a corporate life of 
their own now* and knew what * pulling together ' 

When a battery comes into camp it 4 parks ' all 
six guns at the appointed place* side by side in one 
mathematically straight line* and the accuracy of 
the alignment is, like ceremonial-drill with the Foot, 
a fair test of its attainments* The ground was no 
treat for parking* Specimen trees and draining 
ditches had to be avoided and circumvented* The 
gunners* their reins, the guns* the ground, were 
equally wet, and the slob dropped away like gruel 
from the brake-shoes* And they were Londoners 
clerks, mechanics, shop assistants, and delivery 
men anything and everything that you please* 
But they were all home and at home in their 
saddles and seats* They said nothing; their 
officers said little enough to them* They came in 



across what had once been turf; wheeled with 
tight traces; halted, unhooked; the wise teams 
stumped off to their pickets, and, behold, the six 
guns were left precisely where they should have 
been left to the fraction of an inch* You could 
see the wind blowing the last few drops of wet 
from each leather muzzle^cover at exactly the same 
angle* It was all old known evolutions, taken 
unconsciously in the course of their day's work by 
men well abreast of it. 

4 Our men have one advantage/ said a voice* 
4 As Territorials they were introduced to unmade 
horses once a year at training* So they've never 
been accustomed to made horses*' 

'And what do the horses say about it all?' I 
asked, remembering what I had seen on the road 
in the early days* 

4 They said a good deal at first, but our chaps 
could make allowances for 'em* They know now*' 

Allah never intended the Gunner to talk* His 
own arm does that for him* The batteries off' 
saddled in silence, though one noticed on all sides 
little quiet caresses between man and beast 
affectionate nuzzlings and nose^slappings* Surely 
the Gunner's relation to his horse is more intimate 
even than the cavalryman's ; for a lost horse only 
turns cavalry into infantry, but trouble in a gun 
team may mean death all round* And this is the 
Gunner's war* The young wet officers said so 



joyously as they passed to and fro picking up 
scandal about breast^straps and breechings, examin* 
ing the collars of ammunition^wagon teams, and 
listening to remarks on shoes* Local blacksmiths, 
assisted by the battery itself, do the shoeing. 
There are master smiths and important farriers, 
who have cheerfully thrown up good wages to 
help the game, and their horses reward them by 
keeping fit* A fair proportion of the horses are 
aged there was never a Gunner yet satisfied with 
his team or its rations till he had left the battery 
but they do their work as steadfastly and whole^ 
heartedly as the men, I am persuaded the horses 
like being in society and working out their daily 
problems of draught and direction. The English, 
and Londoners particularly, are the kindest and 
most reasonable of folk with animals. If it were 
not our business strictly to underrate ourselves for 
the next few years, one would say that the Territorial 
batteries had already done wonders. But perhaps 
it is better to let it all go with the grudging admis* 
sion wrung out of a wringing wet bombardier, 
4 Well, it isn't so dam' bad considering 

I left them taking their dinner in mess tins to their 
tents, with a strenuous afternoon's cleaning* up 
ahead of them. The big park held some thousands 
of men, I had seen no more than a few hundreds, 
and had missed the howitzer^batteries after all, 

A cock pheasant chaperoned me down the drive, 



complaining loudly that where he was used to walk 
with his ladies under the beech trees, some unsport^ 
ing people had built a miniature landscape with 
tiny villages, churches, and factories, and came 
there daily to point cannon at it 

4 Keep away from that place/ said 1, 4 or you'll 
find yourself in a fidd Jdtchen/ 

4 Not me ! ' he crowed. 4 I'm as sacred as golf < 



There was a little town a couple of miles down 
the road where one used to lunch in the old days, 
and had the hotel to oneself* Now there are six 
ever * changing officers in billet there, and the 
astonished houses quiver all day to traction engines 
and high'piled lorries. A unit of the Army Service 
Corps and some mechanical transport lived near 
the station, and fed the troops for twenty miles 

'Are your people easy to find?' I asked of a 
wandering private, with the hands of a sweep, the 
head of a Christian among lions, and suicide in 
his eye. 

'Well, the A.S.C. are in the Territorial Drill 
Hall for one thing ; and for another you're likely 
to hear us I There's some motors come in from 
Bulford/ He snorted and passed on, smelling of 



The drill' shed was peace and comfort The 
A*S*C* were getting ready there for pay-day and 
for a concert that evening* Outside in the wind 
and the occasional rain-spurts, life was different* 
The Bulford motors and some other crocks sat on 
a side "road between what had been the local 
garage and a newly ^erected workshop of creaking 
scaf fold - poles and bellying slatting rick -cloths, 
where a forge glowed and general repairs were 
being effected* Beneath the motors men lay on 
their backs and called their friends to pass them 
spanners, or, for pity's sake, to shove another 
sack under their mud-wreathed heads* 

A corporal, who had been nine years a fitter 
and seven in a city garage, briefly and briskly 
outlined the more virulent diseases that develop 
in Government rolling-stock* (I heard quite a lot 
about Bulford*) Hollow voices from beneath 
eviscerated gear-boxes confirmed him* We with' 
drew to the shelter of the rick-cloth workshop 
that corporal ; the sergeant who had been a 
carpenter, with a business of his own, and, 
incidentally, had served through the Boer War; 
another sergeant who was a member of the Master 
Builders' Association; and a private who had 
also been fitter, chauffeur, and a few other things* 
The third sergeant, who kept a poultryxfarm in 
Surrey, had some duty elsewhere* 

A man at a carpenter's bench was finishing 



a spoke for a newly^painted cart* He squinted 
along it* 

'That's funny/ said the master builder* 'Of 
course in his own business he'd chuck his job 
sooner than do wood' work. But it's all funny/ 

'What I grudge/ a sergeant struck in, 'is havin' 
to put mechanics to loading and unloading beef* 
That's where modified conscription for the beauties 
that won't roll up 'Id be useful to z/s* We want 
hewers of wood* we do* And I'd hew 'em ! ' 

4 1 want that file*' This was a private in a 
hurry* come from beneath an unspeakable Bulf ord* 
Some one asked him musically if he ' would tell 
his wife in the morning who he was with tonight/ 

' You'll find it in the tookchest/ said the sergeant* 
It was his ov/n sacred tool'chest which he had 
contributed to the common stock* 

'And what sort of men have you got in this 
unit ? ' I asked* 

'Every sort you can think of* There isn't 
a thing you couldn't have made here if you wanted 
to* But ' the corporal* who had been a f itter, 
spoke with fervour ' you can't expect us to make 
big'ends, can you ? That f ive^ton Bulford lorry 
out there in the wet ' 

'And she isn't the worst/ said the master 
builder* ' But it's all part of the game* And so 
funny when you come to think of it* Me painting 
carts* and certificated plumbers loading frozen beef ! 9 



4 What about the discipline ? ' I asked 

The corporal turned a fitter's eye on me* 'The 
mechanism is the discipline/ said he, with most 
profound truth. 4 Jockeyin' a sick car on the road 
is discipline, too* What about the discipline ? ' He 
turned to the sergeant with the carpenter's chest 
There was one sergeant of Regulars, with twenty 
years' service behind him and a knowledge of 
human nature. He struck in. 

4 You ought to know. YouVe just been made 
corporal/ said that sergeant of Regulars. 

4 Well, there's so much which everybody knows 
has got to be done that that why, we all turn 
in and do it/ quoth the corporal. 4 1 don't have 
any trouble with my lot.' 

4 Yes; that's how the case stands/ said the 
sergeant of Regulars. 4 Come and see our stores.' 

They were beautifully arranged in a shed which 
felt like a monastery after the windy, clashing 
world without ; and the young private who acted 
as checker he came from some railway office 
had the thin, keen face of the cleric. 

4 We're in billets in the town/ said the sergeant 
who had been a carpenter. 4 But I'm a married 
man* I shouldn't care to have men billeted on us 
at home, an' I don't want to inconvenience other 
people. So I've knocked up a bunk for myself on 
the premises. It's handier to the stores, too/ 




We entered what had been the local garage* 
The mechanical transport were in full possession, 
tinkering the gizzards of more cars* We discussed 
chewed'Up gears (samples to hand), and the civil 
population's okUtime views of the military* The 
corporal told a tale of a clergyman in a Midland 
town who, only a year ago, on the occasion of 
some manoeuvres, preached a sermon warning his 
flock to guard their womenfolk against the soldiers, 

4 And when you think when you know/ said 
the corporal, ' what life in those little towns really 
is I ' He whistled* 

'See that old landau/ said he, opening the 
door of an ancient wreck jammed against a wall 
4 That's two of our chaps' dressing-room* They 
don't care to be billeted, so they sleep 'tween the 
landau and the wall* It's handier for their work, 
too* Work comes in at all hours* I wish I was 
cavalry* There's some use in cursing a horse*' 

Truly, it's an awful thing to belong to a service 
where speech brings no alleviation* 

4 You ! ' A private with callipers turned from 
the bench by the window* 4 You'd die outside of a 
garage* But what you said about civilians and 
soldiers is all out of date now*' 

The sergeant of Regulars permitted himself a 
small, hidden smile* The private with the callipers 
had been some twelve weeks a soldier. 



4 1 don't say it isn V said the corporal ' I'm 
saying what it used to be/ 

'Weell/ the private screwed up the callipers, 
'didn't you feel a little bit that way yourself 
when you were a civilian ? ' 

4 1 I don't think I did/ The corporal was taken 
aback* 4 1 don't think I ever thought about it/ 

4 Ah! There you are!' said the private, very drily* 

Some one laughed in the shadow of the landau 
dressingxroom* 'Anyhow, we're all in it now, 
Private Percy/ said a voice* 

There must be a good many thousand conversa^ 
tions of this kind being held all over England now* 
adays* Our breed does not warble much about 
patriotism or Fatherland, but it has a wonderful 
sense of justice, even when its own shortcomings 
are concerned* 

We went over to the drilLshed to see the men paid* 

The first man I ran across there was a sergeant 
who had served in the Mounted Infantry in the 
South African picnic that we used to call a war* 
He had been a private chauffeur for some years 
long enough to catch the professional look, but 
was joyously reverting to service type again* 

The men lined up, were called out, saluted 
emphatically at the pay^table, and fell back with 
their emoluments* They smiled at each other* 

'An' it's all so funny/ murmured the master 
builder in my ear* 'About a quarter no, less 



than a quarter of what one 'ud be making on 
one's own ! ' 

4 Fifty bob a week, cottage, and all found, I was* 
An' only two cars to look after/ said a voice 
behind* 'An' if I'd been asked simply asked 

to lie down in the mud all the afternoon V 

The speaker looked at his wages with awe. Some 
one wanted to know, sotto voce, if 4 that was union 
rates/ and the grin spread among the uniformed 
experts* The joke, you will observe, lay in 
situations thrown up, businesses abandoned, and 
pleasant prospects cut short at the nod of duty* 

4 Thank Heaven ! ' said one of them at last, 4 it's 
too dark to work on those blessed Bulfords any 
more toxday* We'll get ready for the concert/ 

But it was not too dark, half an hour later, for 
my car to meet a big lorry storming back in the 
wind and the wet from the northern camps* She 
gave me London allowance half one inch between 
hub and hub swung her corner like a Brooklands 
professional, changed gear for the uphill with a sweet 
click, and charged away* For aught I knew, she was 
driven by an ex/fifty'bobxa'weekxa'Cottage'and' 
all'found '*er, who next month might be dodging 
shells with her and thinking it 4 all so funny*' 

Horse, Foot, even the Guns may sometimes get 
a little rest, but so long as men eat thrice a day 
there is no rest for the Army Service Corps* They 
carry the campaign on their all*sustaining backs* 




Before you hit the buffalo, find out where the rest of the herd 
is. Proverb. 

THIS particular fold of downs behind Salis- 
bury might have been a hump of prairie 
near Winnipeg* The team that came over 
the rise, widely spaced between pole-bar and whiffle- 
trees, were certainly children of the prairie* They 
shied at the car* Their driver asked them dis- 
passionately what they thought they were doing, 
anyway* They put their wise heads together, and 
did nothing at all* Yes* Oh, yes ! said the driver* 
They were Western horses* They weighed better 
than twelve hundred apiece. He himself was from 
Edmonton way* The Camp? Why, the camp 
was right ahead along up this road* No chance 
to miss it, and, 4 Sa-ay ! Look out for our lorries ! ' 
A fleet of them hove in sight going at the rate of 
knots, and keeping their left with a conscientiousness 
only learned when you come out of a country where 
nearly all the Provinces (except British Columbia) 



keep to the right* Every line of them, from steering- 
wheel to brake-shoes, proclaimed their nationality* 
Three perfectly efficient young men who were 
sprinkling a golf 'green with sifted earth ceased their 
duties to stare at them* Two riding-boys (also 
efficient) on racehorses* their knees under their chins 
and their saddles between their horses' ears, cantered 
past on the turf* The rattle of the motors upset 
their catsmeat, so one could compare their style of 
riding with that of an officer loping along to over* 
take a string of buck-wagons that were trotting 
towards the horizon* The riding-boys have to 
endure sore hardship nowadays* One gentleman 
has already complained that his 4 private gallops f 
are being cut up by gun-wheels and 4 irremediably 

Then more lorries* contractors' wagons* and in- 
creasing vileness of the battered road-bed, till one 
slid through a rude gate into a new world* of 
canvas as far as the eye could reach, and beyond 
that outlying clouds of tents* It is not a contingent 
that Canada has sent, but an army horse, foot, 
guns, engineers, and all details, fully equipped* 
Taking that army's strength at thirty-three thou- 
sand, and the Dominion's population at eight 
million, the camp is Canada on the scale of one 
to two hundred and forty an entire nation unrolled 
across a few square miles of turf and tents and huts* 

Here I could study at close hand 4 a Colony ' 



yearning to shake off 'the British yoke/ For, 
beyond question, they yearned the rank and file 
unreservedly, the officers with more restraint but 
equal fervour and the things they said about the 
Yoke were simply lamentable* 

From Nova Scotia to Victoria, and every city, 
township, distributingxcentre, and divisional point 
between ; from subtropical White River and sultry 
Jackfish to the ultimate north that lies up beside 
Alaska ; from Kootenay, and Nelson of the fruit^ 
farms, to Prince Edward Island, where motors are 
not allowed; they yearned to shake it off, with 
the dust of England from their feet, 4 at once and 
some time before that/ 

I had been warned that when Armageddon came 
the 4 Colonies ' would 4 revolt against the Mother 
Country as one man'; but I had no notion I 
should ever see the dread spectacle with my own 
eyes or the 4 one man ' so tall ! 

Joking apart, the Canadian Army wants to get 
to work* It admits that London is 'some city/ 
but says it did not take the trip to visit London 
only, Armageddon, which so many people in 
Europe knew was bound to come, has struck 
Canada out of the blue, like a noonday murder 
in a small town* How will they feel when they 
actually view some of the destruction in France, 
these men who are used to making and owning 
their homes? And what effect will it have on 
33 D 


their land's outlook and development for the next 
few generations ? Older countries may possibly slip 
back into some sort of toleration. New peoples, 
in their first serious war, like girls in their first real 
love-affair, neither forget nor forgive* That is why 
it pays to keep friends with the young. 

And such young! They ran inches above all 
normal standards, not in a few companies or 
battalions, but through the whole corps; and it 
was not easy to pick out foolish or even dull faces 
among them. Details going about their business 
through the camp's much mud; defaulters on 
fatigue; orderlies, foot and mounted; the pro- 
cession of lorry-drivers ; companies falling in for 
inspection; battalions parading; brigades moving 
off for manoeuvres ; batteries clanking in from the 
ranges ; they were all supple, free, and intelligent ; 
and moved with a lift and a drive that made one 
sing for joy. 


Only a few months ago that entire collection 
poured into Valcartier camp in pink shirts and 
straw hats, desperately afraid they might not be in 
time. Since then they have been taught several 
things. Notably, that the more independent the 
individual soldier, the more does he need fore" 
thought and endless care when he is in bulk. 



4 Just because we were all used to looking after 
ourselves in civil life/ said an officer, 4 we used to 
send parties out without rations* And the parties 
used to go, tool And we expected the boys to 
look after their own feet* But we're wiser 


4 They're learning the same thing in the New 
Army/ I said* 4 Company officers have to be 
taught to be mothers and housekeepers and sanitary- 
inspectors* Where do your men come from ? ' 

4 Tell me some place that they don't come from/ 
said he, and I could not* The men had rolled up 
from everywhere between the Arctic circle and the 
border, and I was told that those who could not 
get into the first contingent were moving heaven and 
earth and local politicians to get into the second* 

4 There's some use in politics now/ that officer 
reflected* 'But it's going to thin the voting 'lists 
at home/ 

A good many of the old South African crowd 
(the rest are coming) were present and awfully 
correct* Men last met as privates between De 
Aar and Belmont were captains and majors now* 
while one lad who, to the best of his ability, had 
painted Cape Town pink in those fresh years, 
was a grim non-commissioned officer worth his 
disciplined weight in dollars* 

'/ didn't remind Dan of old times when he 
turned up at Valcartier disguised as a respectable 



citizen/ said my informant 'I just roped him in 
for my crowd* He's a father to 'em* He knows/ 

4 And have you many cheery souls coming on ? ' 
I asked* 

'Not many; but it's always the same with a 
first contingent* You take everything that offers 
and weed the bravoes out later/ 

'We don't weed/ said an officer of artillery* 
'Any one who has had his passage paid for by 
the Canadian Government stays with us till he 
eats out of our hand* And he does* They make 
the best men in the long run/ he added* I thought 
of a friend of mine who is now disabusing two or 
three ' old soldiers f in a Service corps of the idea 
that they can run the battalion* and I laughed* 
The Gunner was right* 4 Old soldiers/ after a 
little loving care* become valuable and virtuous* 

A company of Foot was drawn up under the 
lee of a fir plantation behind us* They were a 
miniature of their army as their army was of their 
people* and one could feel the impact of strong 
personality almost like a blow* 

4 If you'd believe it/ said a cavalryman* 4 we're 
forbidden to cut into that little wood'lot, yonder ! 
Not one stick of it may we have! We could 
make shelters for our horses in a day out of that 

4 But it's timber ! ' I gasped* 4 Sacred* tame trees ! ' 

4 Oh* we know what wood is ! They issue it 


to us by the pound* Wood to burn by the 
pound I What's wood for, anyway ? ' 

4 And when do you think we shall be allowed 
to go ? ' some one asked, not for the first time, 

4 By and by/ said L 4 And then you'll have to 
detail half your army to see that your equipment 
isn't stolen from you/ 

4 What ! f cried an old Strathcona Horse* He 
looked anxiously towards the horse-lines. 

4 1 was thinking of your mechanical transport 
and your travelling workshops and a few other 
things that you've got/ 

I got away from those large men on their windy 
hill'top, and slid through mud and past mechanical 
transport and troops untold towards Lark Hill. 
On the way I passed three fresh<cut pine sticks, 
laid and notched one atop of the other to shore up 
a caving bank. Trust a Canadian or a beaver 
within gunshot of standing timber ! 


Lark Hill is where the Canadian Engineers live, 
in the midst of a profligate abundance of tools and 
carts, pontoon wagons, field telephones, and other 
mouth-watering gear. Hundreds of tin huts are 
being built there, but quite leisurely, by contract 
I noticed three workmen, at eleven o'clock of that 



Monday forenoon, as drunk as Davy's sow, reel- 
ing and shouting across the landscape* So far as 
I could ascertain, the workmen do not work extra 
shifts, nor even, but I hope this is incorrect, on 
Saturday afternoons ; and I think they take their 
full hour at noon these short days* 

Every camp throws up men one has met at the 
other end of the earth ; so, of course, the Engineer 
C*O* was an ex-South African Canadian* 

'Some of our boys are digging a trench over 
yonder/ he said* 4 I'd like you to look at 'em*' 

The boys seemed to average five feet ten inches, 
with thirty-seven inch chests* The soil was un^ 
accommodating chalk* 

4 What are you ? ' I asked of the first pickaxe* 


'Yes, but before that?' 

4 McGill (University understood)* Nineteen 

4 And that boy with the shovel ? ' 

4 Queen's, I think* No ; he's Toronto*' 

And thus the class in applied geology went on 
half up the trench, under supervision of a Corporal- 
Bachelor-of- Science with a most scientific biceps* 
They were young ; they were beautifully fit, and 
they were all truly thankful that they lived in these 
high days* 

Sappers, like sergeants, take care to make them- 
selves comfortable* The corps were dealing with 



all sorts of little domestic matters in the way of 
arrangements for baths, which are cruelly needed, 
and an apparatus for depopulating shirts, which is 
even more wanted* Healthy but unwashen men 
sleeping on the ground are bound to develop 
certain things which at first disgust them, but 
later are accepted as an unlovely part of the game* 
It would be quite easy to make bakehouses and 
superheated steam fittings to deal with the trouble* 
The huts themselves stand on brick piers, from one 
to three feet above ground* The board floors are 
not grooved or tongued, so there is ample ventila*- 
tion from beneath ; but they have installed decent 
cooking ranges and gas, and the men have already 
made themselves all sorts of handy little labour^ 
saving gadgets* They would do this if they were 
in the real desert* Incidentally, I came across a 
delightful bit of racial instinct* A man had been 
told to knock up a desk out of broken packing' 
cases* There is only one type of desk in Canada 
the rollerxtop, with three shelves each side the 
knee-hole, characteristic sloping sides, raised back, 
and long shelf in front of the writer* He re^ 
produced it faithfully, barring, of course, the roller^ 
top ; and the thing leaped to the eye out of its 
English office surroundings* The Engineers do 
not suffer for lack of talents* Their senior officers 
appear to have been the heads, and their juniors 
the assistants, in big concerns that wrestle with 



unharnessed nature* (There is a tale of the build- 
ing of a bridge in Valcartier Camp which is not 
bad hearing,) The rank and file include miners ; 
road* trestle, and bridge men ; iron construction 
men who* among other things* are steeplejacks; 
whole castes of such as deal in high explosives for 
a living; loco<drivers, superintendents* too* for 
aught I know* and a solid packing of selected 
machinists* mechanics* and electricians* Unluckily* 
they were all a foot or so too tall for me to tell 
them that* even if their equipment escaped at the 
front, they would infallibly be raided for their men* 


I left McGill, Queen's, and Toronto still digging 
in their trench, which another undergraduate, 
mounted and leading a horse, went out of his way 
to jump standing* My last glimpse was of a little 
detachment, with five or six South African ribbons 
among them, who were being looked over by an 
officer* No one thought it strange that they should 
have embodied themselves and crossed the salt 
seas independently as 4 So-and-So's Horse/ (It is 
best to travel with a title these days,) Once arrived, 
they were not at all particular, except that they 
meant to join the Army, and the lonely batch was 
stating its qualifications as Engineers* 



4 They get over any way and every way/ said 
my companion* ' Swimming, I believe/ 

'But who was the So-and-So that they were 
christened after ? ' I asked* 

4 1 guess he was the man who financed 'em or 
grub-staked 'em while they were waiting* He 
may be one of 'em in that crowd now ; or he may 
be a provincial magnate at home getting another 
bunch together*' 


Then I went back to the main camp for a last 
look at that wonderful army* where the tin-roofed 
messes take French conversation lessons with the 
keen-faced French-Canadian officers, and where 
one sees esprit-de-corps in the making* Nowhere 
is local sentiment stronger than in Canada* East 
and West* lake and maritime provinces* prairie and 
mountain* fruit district and timber lands they each 
thrill to it* The West keeps one cold blue open- 
air eye on the townful East* Winnipeg sits 
between* posing alternately as sophisticated metro- 
polis and simple prairie* Alberta* of the thousand 
horses* looks down from her high-peaked saddle 
on all who walk on their feet; and British 
Columbia thanks God for an equable climate* and 
that she is not like Ottawa* full of politicians and 
frozen sludge* Quebec* unassailable in her years 



and experience, smiles tolerantly on the Nova 
Scotian, for he has a history too, and asks Montreal 
if any good thing can come out of Brandon, Moose 
Jaw, or Regina* They discuss each other out' 
rageously, as they know each other intimately, 
over four thousand miles of longitude their fathers, 
their families, and all the connections* Which is 
useful when it comes to sizing up the merits of a 
newly-promoted non-commissioned officer or the 
capacities of a quarter-master* 

As their Army does and suffers, and its record 
begins to blaze, fierce pride of regiment will be 
added to local love and the national pride that 
backs and envelops all But that pride is held in 
very severe check now; for they are neither 
provinces nor tribes but a welded people fighting 
in the War of Liberty* They permit themselves 
to hope that the physique of their next contingent 
will not be worse than that of the present* They 
believe that their country can send forward a certain 
number of men and a certain number behind that, 
all equipped to a certain scale* Of discomforts 
endured, of the long learning and relearning and 
waiting on, they say nothing* They do not hint 
what they will do when their hour strikes, though 
they more than hint their longing for that hour* 
In all their talk I caught no phrase that could be 
twisted into the shadow of a boast or any claim 
to superiority, even in respect to their kit and outfit ; 



no word or implication of self-praise for any sacrifice 
made or intended* It was their rigid humility that 
impressed one as most significant and, perhaps, 
most menacing for such as may have to deal with 
this vanguard of an armed Nation* 




Larai mefi laddu nahin batte (War is not sugar-plums). 
Hindi Proverb. 

WORKING from the East to the West of 
England, through a countryside alive 
with troops of all arms, the car came at 
dusk into a cathedral town entirely inhabited by 
one type of regiment. The telegraplvoffice was 
an orderly jam of solid, large, made men, with 
years of discipline behind them and the tan of 
Indian suns on their faces Englishmen still so 
fresh from the troopships that one of them asked 
me, 4 What's the day o' the month ? ' They were 
advising friends of their arrival in England, or 
when they might be expected on short leave at 
the week's end ; and the fresh-faced telegraph girls 
behind the grilles worked with six pairs of hands 
apiece and all the goodwill and patience in the 
world to back them. That same young woman 
who, with nothing to do, makes you wait ten 



minutes for a penny stamp while she finishes a 
talk with a lady-friend, will, at a crisis, go on till 
she drops, and keep her temper throughout 4 Well, 
if that's her village/ I heard one of the girls say 
to an anxious soul, 'I tell you that that will be her 
telegraph-office* You leave it to me. She 9 II get 
it all right/ 

He backed out, and a dozen more quietly took 
his place. Their regiments hailed from all the old 
known stations of the East and beyond that into 
the Far East again. They cursed their cool barrack 
accommodation ; they rejoiced in the keen autumn 
smells, and paraded the long street all filled with 
4 Europe shops '; while their officers and their 
officers' wives, and, I think, mothers who had 
come down to snatch a glimpse of their boys, 
crowded the hotels, and the little unastonished 
Anglo-Indian children circulated round the knees 
of big friends they had made aboardship and 
asked, ' Where are you going now ? ' 

One caught scraps of our old gipsy talk names 
of boarding-houses, agents' addresses: 4 Milly stays 
with mother, of course/ 4 I'm taking Jack down 
to school to-morrow. It's past half-term, but that 
doesn't matter nowadays ' ; and cheery farewells 
between men and calm-eyed women. Except for 
the frocks, it might have been an evening assembly 
at any station bandstand in India. 

Outside, on the surging pavements, a small boy 


cried: * Paper! EveniV paper!' Then seductively: 

4 What ? ' I said, thinking my ears had cheated 

4 Dekko! Kargus!' said he. ('Look here! 

4 Why on earth d'you say that ? ' 

4 Because the men like it/ he replied, and slapped 
an evening paper (no change for a penny) into the 
hand of a man in a helmet 

Who shall say that the English are not 

The car swam bonnet-deep through a mile of 
troops; and a mile up the road one could hear 
the deep hum of all those crowded streets that the 
cathedral bells were chiming oven It was only 
one small block of Anglo-India getting ready to 
take its place in the all-devouring Line. 


An hour later at (Shall we ever be able to 

name people and places outright again ?) the wind 
brought up one whiff one unmistakable whiff 
of ghu Somewhere among the English pines 
that, for the moment, pretended to be the lower 
slopes of the Dun, there were native troops. A 
mule squealed in the dark and set off half-a-dozen 


others* It was screw ^ guns batteries of them, 
waiting their turn also at the game* Morning 
showed them in their immaculate lines as though 
they had just marched in from Jutogh little* low 
guns with their ammunition; very big English 
gunners in disengaged attitudes which, nevertheless* 
did not encourage stray civilians to poke and peer 
into things ; and the native drivers all busied over 
their charges* True, the wind was bitter, and 
many of the drivers had tied up their heads, but 
so one does at Quetta in the cold weather not 
to mention Peshawur and, said a naick of drivers: 
4 It is not the cold for which we have no liking* 
It is the wet* The English air is good, but water 
falls at all seasons* Yet notwithstanding, we of 
this battery (and, oh, the pride men can throw into 
a mere number!) have not lost one mule* Neither 
at sea nor on land have we one lost* That can be 
shown, sahib/ 

Then one heard the deep racking tobaco>cough 
in the lee of a tent where four or five men 
Kangra folk by the look of them were drinking 
tobacco out of a cow's horn* Their own country's 
tobacco, be sure, for English tobacco* * * * But 
there was no need to explain* Who would have 
dreamed to smell bazar^tobacco on a south country 
golf links ? 

A large proportion of the men are, of course, 
Sikhs* to whom tobacco is forbidden ; the Havildar 



Major himself was a Sikh of the Sikhs, He spoke, 
of all things in this strange world, of the late Mr, 
M, McAuliffe's monumental book on the Sikh 
religion, saying, not without warrant, that McAulif f e 
Sahib had translated into English much of the 
Holy Book the great Grunth Sahib that lives 
at Amritzar, He enlarged, too, on the ancient 
prophecy among the Sikhs that a hatted race 
should, some day come out of the sea and lead 
them to victory all the earth over. So spoke Bir 
Singh, erect and enormous beneath the grey 
English skies. He hailed from a certain place called 
Banalu, near Patiala, where many years ago two 
Sikh soldiers executed a striking but perfectly just 
vengeance on certain villagers who had oppressed 
their young brother, a cultivator. They had gone 
to the extreme limits of abasement and conciliation. 
This failing, they took leave for a week-end and 
slew the whole tribe of their enemies. The story 
is buried in old Government reports, but when Bir 
Singh implied that he and his folk were orthodox 
I had no doubt of it. And behind him stood 
another giant, who knew, for his village was but a 
few miles up the Shalimar road, every foot of 
Lahore city. He brought word that there had been 
great floods at home, so that the risen Ravi river 
had touched the very walls of Runjit Singh's Fort, 
And that was only last rains and, behold ! here 
he was now in England waiting orders to go to 



this fight which, he understood, was not at all a 
small fight, but a fight of fights, in which all the 
world and 4 our Raj ' was engaged. The trouble in 
India was that all the young men the mere jiwans 
wanted to come out at once, which, he said, was 
manifestly unjust to older men, who had waited 
so long* However, merit and patience had secured 
their reward, and the battery was here, and it would 
do the hot jiwans no harm to stay at home, and be 
zealous at drill until orders came for them in their 
turn, 4 Young men think that everything good in 
this world is theirs by right, sahib/ 

Then came the big, still English gunners, who 
are trained to play with the little guns* They took 
one such gun and melted it into trifling pieces of 
not more than a hundred and fifty pounds each, 
and reassembled it, and explained its innermost 
heart till even a layman could understand* There 
is a lot to understand about screw^guns specially 
the new kind* But the gunner of to-day, like his 
ancestor, does not talk much, except in his own 
time and place, when he is as multitudinously 
amazing as the Blue Marine* 


We went over to see the mule lines* I detest the 
whole generation of these parrot-mouthed hybrids, 
American, Egyptian, Andalusian, or up-country: 

49 E 


so it gave me particular pleasure to hear a Pathan 
telling one chestnut beast who objected to having 
its mane hogged any more, what sort of lady 'horse 
his mamma had been. But qua animals, they were 
a lovely lot, and had long since given up blowing 
and finicking over English fodder, 

'Is there any sickness? Why is yonder mule 
lying down ? ' I demanded, as though all the lines 
could not see I was a shuddering amateur* 

4 There is no sickness, sahib? That mule lies 
down for his own pleasure* Also, to get out of 
the wind. He is very eleven He is from Hindu* 
stan/ said the man with the horse-clippers* 


4 1 am a Pathan/ said he with impudent grin and 
true border cock of the turban, and he did me the 
honour to let me infer. 

The lines were full of talk as the men went over 
their animals* They were not worrying themselves 
over this new country of Belait* It was the 
regular gossip of food and water and firewood, and 
where So-and-so had hid the curry-comb* 

Talking of cookery, the orthodox men have 
been rather put out by English visitors who come 
to the cook-houses and stare directly at the food 
while it is being prepared* Sensible men do not 
object to this, because they know that these 
Englishmen have no evil intention nor any evil eye; 
but sometimes a narrowsouled purist (toothache 


or liver makes a man painfully religious) will 4 spy 
strangers/ and insist on the strict letter of the law, 
and then every one who wishes to be orthodox 
must agree with him on an empty stomach, too 
and wait till a fresh mess has been cooked* 
This is taklifSi burden for where the intention 
is good and war is afoot much can and should be 
overlooked* Moreover, this war is not like any 
other wan It is a war of our Raj 4 everybody's 
war/ as they say in the bazaars* And that is 
another reason why it does not matter if an 
Englishman stares at one's food* This I gathered 
in small pieces after watering time when the mules 
had filed up to the troughs in the twilight, hundreds 
of them, and the drivers grew discursive on the 
way to the lines* 

The last I saw of them was in the early cold 
morning, all in marching order, jinking and jingling 
down a road through woods. 

4 Where are you going ? ' 

4 God knows ! ' 


It might have been for exercise merely, or it 
might be down to the sea and away to the front 
for the battle of ' Our Raj*' The quiet hotel where 
people sit together and talk in earnest strained pairs 
is well used to such departures* The officers of 


a whole Division the raw cuts of their tent-circles 
lie still urihealed on the links dined there by 
scores ; mothers and relatives came down from the 
uttermost parts of Scotland for a last look at their 
boys, and found beds goodness knows where: 
very quiet little weddings, too, set out from its 
doors to the church opposite. The Division went 
away a century of weeks ago by the road that the 
mulexbattery took Many of the civilians who 
pocketed the wills signed and witnessed in the 
smoking-room are full-blown executors now ; some 
of the brides are widows. 

And it is not nice to remember that when the 
hotel was so filled that not even another pleading 
mother could be given a place in which to lie down 
and have her cry out not at all nice to remember 
that it never occurred to any of the comfortable 
people in the large but sparsely inhabited houses 
around that they might have offered a night's 
lodging, even to an unintroduced stranger. 


There were hospitals up the road preparing and 
being prepared for the Indian wounded. In one of 
these lay a man of, say, a Biluch regiment, sorely 
hit. Word had come from his colonel in France to 
the colonel's wife in England that she should seek 
till she found that very man and got news from his 


very mouth news to send to his family and 
village* She found him at last, and he was very 
bewildered to see her there, because he had left her 
and her child on the verandah of the bungalow, 
long and long ago, when he and his colonel and the 
regiment went down to take ship for the wan 
How had she come? Who had guarded her 
during her train-journey of so many days ? And, 
above all, how had the baba endured that sea 
which caused strong men to collapse ? Not till all 
these matters had been cleared up in fullest detail 
did Greatheart on his cot permit his colonel's wife 
to waste one word on his own insignificant 
concerns. And that she should have wept filled 
him with real trouble* Truly, this is the war of 



To excuse oneself to oneself is human : but to excuse 
oneself to one's children is Hell. Arabic Proverb. 

BILLETED troops are difficult to get at 
There are thousands of them in a little old 
town by the side of an even older park up 
the London Road, but to find a particular battalion 
is like ferreting unstopped burrows. 

'The Umpty-Umpth, were you looking for?' 
said a private in charge of a side-car. 4 We're the 
Eenty^Eenth* 'Only came in last week I've 
never seen this place before* It's pretty* Hold 
on 1 There's a postman* He'll know/ 

He, too, was in khaki, bowed between mail- 
bags, and his accent was of a far and coaly 

'I'm none too sure,' said he, 'but 1 think I 
saw ' 

Here a third man cut in* 

4 Yon's t' battalion, marchin' into t' park now* 
Roon ! Happen tha'll catch 'em*' 



They turned out to be Territorials with a history 
behind them; but that I didn't know till later; 
and their band and cyclists* Very polite were 
those rear^rank cyclists who pushed their loaded 
machines with one vast hand apiece* 

They were strangers* they said* They had only 
come here a few days ago* But they knew the 
South well* They had been in Gloucestershire* 
which was a very nice southern place* 

Then their battalion* I hazarded* was of 
northern extraction ? 

They admitted that I might go as far as that ; 
their speech betraying their native town at every 
rich word* 

4 Huddersfield* of course?' I said* to make 
them out with it* 

'Bolton/ said one at last* Being in uniform 
the pitman could not destroy the impertinent 

'Ah* Bolton!' I returned* 4 All cotton* aren't 

4 Some coal/ he answered gravely* There is 
notorious rivalry 'twixt coal and cotton in Bolton* 
but I wanted to see him practise the self-control 
that the Army is always teaching* 

As I have said* he and his companion were 
most polite, but the total of their information* 
boiled and peeled* was that they had just come 
from Bolton way ; might at any moment be sent 



somewhere else, and they liked Gloucestershire in 
the south* A spy could not have learned much 

The battalion halted, and moved off by com* 
panies for further evolutions. One could see they 
were more than used to drill and arms ; a hardened, 
thick-necked, thin-flanked, deep-chested lot, dealt 
with quite faithfully by their sergeants, and alto^ 
gether abreast of their work. Why, then, this 
reticence ? What had they to be ashamed of, these 
big Bolton folk without an address ? Where was 
their orderly-room ? 

There were many orderly-rooms in the little old 
town, most of them in bye-lanes less than one car 
wide* I found what I wanted, and this was north- 
country all over a private who volunteered to 
steer me to headquarters through the tricky southern 
streets. He was communicative, and told me a 
good deal about typhoid-inoculation and musketry 
practice, which accounted for only six companies 
being on parade. But surely they could not have 
been ashamed of that. 


I unearthed their skeleton at last in a peaceful, 
gracious five-hundred-year-old house that looked 
on to lawns and cut hedges bounded by age-old 
red brick walls such a perfumed and dreaming 



place as one would choose for the setting of some 
even^pulsed English love^tale of the days before 
the wan 

Officers were billeted in the low^ceiled, shiny* 
floored rooms full of books and flowers* 

4 And now/ I asked, when I had told the tale of 
the uncommunicative cyclist, ' what is the matter 
with your battalion ? ' 

They laughed cruelly at me* 4 Matter I* said 
they* 'We're just off three months of guarding 
railways* After that a man wouldn't trust his own 
mother* You don't mean to say our cyclists let 
you know where we've come from last ? ' 

4 No, they didn't,' I replied* 4 That was what 
worried me* I assumed you'd all committed 
murders, and had been sent here to live it down/ 

Then they told me what guarding a line really 
means* How men wake and walk, with only 
express troop-trains to keep them company, all the 
night long on windy embankments or under still 
more windy bridges ; how they sleep behind three 
sleepers up-ended or a bit of tin, or* if they are 
lucky, in a platelayer's hut ; how their food comes 
to them slopping across the squareheaded ties that 
lie in wait to twist a man's ankle after dark $ how 
they stand in blown coal-dust of goods 'yards trying 
to watch five lines of trucks at once ; how fools of 
all classes pester the lonely pickets, whose orders 
are to hold up motors for inquiry, and then write 



silly letters to the War Office about it* How 
nothing ever happens through the long weeks but 
infallibly would if the patrols were taken off* And 
they had one refreshing story of a workman who 
at six in the morning, which is no auspicious hour 
to jest with Lancashire, took a short cut to his 
work by ducking under some goods^wagons, and 
when challenged by the sentry replied, posturing 
on all fours, 4 Boo, I'm a German ! ' Whereat the 
upright sentry fired, unfortunately missed him, and 
then gave him the butt across his ass's head, so 
that his humour, and very nearly his life, terminated* 
After which the sentry was seldom seen to smile, 
but frequently heard to murmur, 4 Ah should hev 
slipped t' baggonet into him/ 


4 So you see/ said the officers in conclusion, 
4 you mustn't be surprised that our men wouldn't 
tell you much/ 

4 1 begin to see/ I said* ' How many of you are 
coal and how many cotton ? f 

'Two'thirds coal and one^third cotton, roughly* 
It keeps the men deadly keen* An operative isn't 
going to give up while a pitman goes on ; and very 
much vice versa.' 

4 That's class-prejudice/ said I* 

4 It's most useful/ said they* The officers them" 



selves seemed to be interested in coal or cotton, and 
had known their men intimately on the civil side* 
If your orderly-room sergeant, or your quarter- 
master has been your trusted head clerk or foreman 
for ten or twelve years, and if eight out of a dozen 
sergeants have controlled pitmen and machinists, 
above and below ground, and eighty per cent of 
these pitmen and machinists are privates in the 
companies, your regiment works with something 
of the precision of a big business. 

It was all new talk to me, for I had not yet met 
a Northern Territorial battalion with the strong 
pride of its strong town behind it. Where were 
they when the war came ? How had they equipped 
themselves ? I wanted to hear the tale. It was 
worth listening to as told with North- Country joy 
of life and the doing of things in that soft down- 
country house of the untroubled centuries. Like 
every one else, they were expecting anything but 
war. 'Hadn't even begun their annual camp* 
Then the thing came, and Bolton rose as one man 
and woman to fit out its battalion. There was a 
lady who wanted a fairly large sum of money for 
the men's extra footgear. She set aside a morning 
to collect it, and inside the hour came home with 
nearly twice her needs, and spent the rest of the 
time trying to make people take back fivers, at least, 
out of tenners. And the big hauling firms flung 
horses and transport at them and at the Govern- 



ment, often refusing any price, or, when it was 
paid, turning it into the war funds* What the 
battalion wanted it had but to ask for. Once it 
was short of, say, towels* An officer approached 
the head of a big firm, with no particular idea he 
would get more than a few dozen from that quarter* 

4 And how many towels d 'you want ? ' said the 
head of the firm* The officer suggested a globular 

4 1 think you'll do better with twelve hundred/ 
was the curt answer* 4 They're ready out yonder* 
Get 'em/ 

And in this style Bolton turned out her battalion* 
Then the authorities took it and strung it by threes 
and fives along several score miles of railway track : 
and it had only just been reassembled, and it had 
been inoculated for typhoid* Consequently, they 
said (but all officers are like mothers and motorcar 
owners), it wasn't up to what it would be in a 
little time* In spite of the cyclist, I had had a 
good look at the deep ^ chested battalion in the 
park, and after getting their musketry figures, 1 it 
seemed to me that very soon it might be worth 
looking at by more prejudiced persons than myself* 

1 Thanks to the miniature rifle clubs fostered by Lord 
Roberts a certain number of recruits in all the armies come to 
their regiments with a certain knowledge of sighting, rifle* 
handling, and the general details of good shooting, especially 
at snap and disappearing work. 



The next day I read that this battalion's regular 
battalion in the field had distinguished itself by 
a piece of work which, in other wars, would have 
been judged heroic* Bolton will read it, not 
without remarks, and other towns who love 
Bolton, more or less, will say that if all the truth 
could come out their regiments had done as well* 
Anyway, the result will be more men pitmen, 
milLhands, clerks, checkers, weighers, winders, and 
hundreds of those sleek, welLgroomed business- 
chaps whom one used to meet in the big Midland 
hotels, protesting that war was out of date* These 
latter develop surprisingly in the camp atmosphere* 
I recall one raging in his army shirt - sleeves at 
a comrade who had derided his principles* ' I am 
a blanky pacificist/ he hissed, 4 and I'm proud of 
it, and and I'm going to make you one before 
I've finished with you I ' 


Pride of city, calling, class, and creed imposes 
standards and obligations which hold men above 
themselves at a pinch, and steady them through 
long strain* One meets it in the New Army at 
every turn, from the picked Territorials who slipped 
across Channel last night to the six-week-old 
Service battalion maturing itself in mud* It is 



balanced by the ineradicable English instinct to 
understate, detract, and decry to mask the thing 
done by loudly drawing attention to the things 
undone* The more one sees of the camps the 
more one is filled with facts and figures of joyous 
significance, which will become clearer as the days 
lengthen ; and the less one hears of the endurance, 
decency, self-sacrifice, and utter devotion which 
have made, and are hourly making, this wonderful 
new world* The camps take this for granted 
else why should any man be there at all? He 
might have gone on with his business, or watched 
4 soccer/ But having chosen to do his bit, he 
does it, and talks as much about his motives as 
he would of his religion or his love-affairs* He 
is eloquent over the shortcomings of the authorities, 
more pessimistic as to the future of his next 
neighbour battalion than would be safe to print, 
and lyric on his personal needs baths and drying* 
rooms for choice* But when the grousing gets 
beyond a certain point say at three a.m, in 
steady wet, with the tent-pegs drawing like false 
teeth the nephew of the insurance-agent asks the 
cousin of the baronet to inquire of the son of the 
fried-fish vendor what the stevedore's brother and 
the tutor of the public school joined the Army 
/or* Then they sing 4 Somewhere the Sun is 
Shining' till the Sergeant Ironmonger's assistant 
cautions them to drown in silence or the Lieutenant 



Telephone"appliances"manufacturer will speak to 
them in the morning* 

The New armies have not yet evolved their 
typical private, n**oo., and officer, though one 
can see them shaping* They are humorous 
because, for all our long faces, we are the only 
genuinely humorous race on earth; but they all 
know for true that there are no excuses in the 
Service* 'If there were? said a three "month" 
old under ^gardener ^private to me, 'what 'ud 
become of Discipline ? f 

They are already setting standards for the 
coming millions, and have sown little sprouts of 
regimental tradition which may grow into age-old 
trees* In one corps, for example, though no 
dubbin is issued a man loses his name for parad" 
ing with dirty boots* He looks down scornfully 
on the next battalion where they are not expected 
to achieve the impossible* In another an ex" 
Guards sergeant brought 'em up by hand the drill 
is rather high"class* In a third they fuss about 
records for route^marching, and men who fall out 
have to explain themselves to their sweating com" 
panions* This is entirely right* They are all 
now in the Year One, and the meanest of them 
may be an ancestor of whom regimental posterity 
will say : 4 There were giants in those days ! ' 




This much we can realise, even though we are 
so close to it The old safe instinct saves us from 
triumph and exultation* But what will be the 
position in years to come of the young man who 
has deliberately elected to outcaste himself from 
this all-embracing brotherhood? What of his 
family, and, above all, what of his descendants, 
when the books have been closed and the last 
balance struck of sacrifice and sorrow in every 
hamlet, village, parish, suburb, city, shire, district, 
province, and Dominion throughout the Empire ? 

Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh. 



In 26 vo/s. 

. 6d. net each 

The volumes are bound in blue cloth, 
printed in an old-style type designed 
after an old Venetian model and known as 
the Dolphin Type. 

Plain Tales from the Hills. 2 Vols. 

Soldiers Three. 2 Vols. 

Wee Willie Winkie. 2 Vols. 

From Sea to Sea. 4 Vols. 

Life's Handicap. 2 Vols. 

The Light that Failed. 2 Vols. 

The Naulahka. 2 Vols.- 

Many Inventions. 2 Vols. 

The Day's Work. 2 Vols. 

Kim. 2 Vols. 

Traffics and Discoveries. 2 Vols. 

Actions and Reactions. 2 Vols. 






<r # 7